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Nurses make the difference in care

Daytona Beach News-Journal, 10/18/10

By Nita Dollieslager
Daytona Beach News-Journal
October 18, 2010

I am a registered nurse working in this community. I am also part of the legislative efforts led by the National Nurses Organizing Committee of Florida. I support the Florida Hospital Patient Protection Act (known as HB 1283/SB 2316 in the 2010 legislative session) and ask that all residents of this community support it too.

Research shows that increasing the number of full-time registered nurses on staff per day by just one resulted in 9 percent fewer hospital-related deaths in ICUs, 16 percent fewer in surgical patients and 6 percent fewer in medical patients (as reported in Healthcare Risk Management, Feb. 2008). Safe staffing ratios also help lower the incidence of some of the most-serious health issues facing seniors: pneumonia, stroke and hospital-acquired infections, to name a few.

According to a Robert Wood Johnson study done in 2006, increasing the ratio of R.N.s to patients doesn't just protect patient care and save lives, it results in a net decrease in cost to the hospital because of improved patient outcomes and reduced length of stay for the patient. It's good for the economy overall.

Reducing the number of patients and increasing our ability as nurses to advocate in the patient's interest is the right thing to do. I hope that the residents of this community will support our efforts to pass the Florida Hospital Patient Protection Act.

In a study done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in May 2007, it was learned that, for each additional patient assigned to a registered nurse, the risk of death for each patient increases by 7 percent. The latest study published by Health Research and Educational Trust shows that the law in California that mandates R.N.-to-patient ratios did the job asked of it -- it saved lives in California. The hospital nurses in California care for fewer patients than other states, and mortality is lower. One has to ask: Why should we not save lives in Florida as well?

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